For the whole month, until the 31st, October marks Black History Month – the annual celebration of the history, achievements, and contributions of black people in the UK.
Originally starting in the US (who celebrate in February) it was historian Carter G Woodson who started the initiative in 1926 when Carter founded Negro History Week, but it wasn’t until 1969 that Black History Month was born and has been celebrated ever since.
Like any celebration, the reasons will mean different things to everyone but for many Black History Month is a way of reflecting on the histories and cultures of African and Caribbean descent and highlighting the achievements and contributions to the social, political, economic, and cultural development of the UK.
As well as educating ourselves and others on the history of Black history, culture, and notable figures it is also an opportunity to have conversations about race.
This is especially important in the workplace as it not only encourages a company’s anti-racism stand but it allows a two-way conversation, opening up the opportunities for discussions amongst employees to their employers.
Things that an employer can do:
• Review policies and protections in place to ensure that your workplace has created a safe environment for everyone.
• Attend, or even organise your own, webinar and encourage all employees to take part
• Encourage and invite employees to talk about their experiences, creating visibility for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees ( this should always be voluntary and no employee should feel forced into this)
• Educate and share resources across the organisation as part of an internal campaign
• Create an internal EDI Network, which includes a specific Race focused group
• Ensure your recruitment and hiring process is fair, inclusive and takes a stance against discrimination.
Throughout October your local area/ nearest city will have a range of events celebrating Black History Month – where you can, do get involved!